When the UK winter hits and you find yourself on your fourth week of hibernation, wrapping yourself in layers of clothing in fear of what cranking the heating up might do to your bills, wishing you could put your North Face back to bed, it becomes hard not to wish away half the year and long for summer.
We're all guilty of it, but when our Spring/Summer festival circuit is stacked so high with unmissable events, can you blame us?
There's nothing quite like a British summertime, and from start to finish, it boasts a program of homegrown and international talent that'll leave you forgetting where you left your head come October.
For those yet to dip their toes in the chaos of the UK festival circuit, it can be hard to know where to start.
Fret not – whether you're looking to show the scene your best bass face, revel in Hip-Hop, mosh to Rock and Metal, throw your gun fingers up, leave reality behind and escape to new worlds, or indulge in the freakier side of fun that the UK has to offer, we've compiled a guide of the best music festivals to add to your diary in 2023.
Land Beyond – Brighton, April 28-30
Kicking things off is Brighton's Land Beyond – and boy, this line-up deserves some attention.
While the festival invites you to leave reality behind and step off into a world of your wildest imagination, the line-up feels like a UK tour through the nation's most dominant genres of music.
As DnB continues to dominate the mainstream, it's no surprise that the likes of Andy C, Bou, Turno, Alchemist, Wilkinson, Kanine, Dimension, and the CruCast crew will be making an appearance.
Bringing some balance to the bass-heavy chaos, ABODE will be bringing its own curation of sounds, while Grime Originals will stage frontrunners of the genre, including Capo Lee, Scrufizzer, Footsie, Chip, Sir Spyro, and Spooky.
More, you say? Well, the 3-day event is spread across 11 stages, offering plenty of the best in UK music to fill your bank holiday weekend with energy.
Creamfields South – Chelmsford, May 26-28
For those in the south of England looking to indulge in what the Creamfields experience has to offer, without making the trek up north (three and a half hours from London by train), then its smaller, shorter sister festival is a no-brainer.
The only downside is you won't find the same genre diversity in the south as you will in the north, with the line-up leaning more heavily on House, EDM, and Techno.
GALA – London, May 26-28
Somewhat of a hidden gem within the circuit, GALA could easily slip under your radar unless you're tuned into the artist slates it curates.
The perfect weekend schedule to ease you into the madness that lies in June-September, this year promises the likes of Congo Natty, Yung Singh, Jamz Supernova, and more.
For me, the beauty of GALA was heading to a festival I'd never heard of, front lined by DJs I was unfamiliar with, and having a belter of a day.
Unlike some of the more obvious options, you can expect a more mature crowd that's far less hectic than others.
Project 6 – London, May 26
After attending the first-ever edition of Outlook UK last year (which offered a program of Reggae, Dub, Dubstep, and Grime) I was extremely disappointed to find out that the festival would be on hold this year. If you went, I'm sure you heard about all of the farmer drama.
You can still catch Outlook Origins in Croatia this summer – but if you're looking for something on home turf, the team is bringing a new experience to London this spring with Project 6.
A festival like no other before it, Project 6 is described as "an all-day music-lovers paradise of the very best in drum & bass, techno, hip hop, and grime," that will then "infiltrate 10 of the most-loved and world-renowned music venues, creating a strobe-lit playground for those ready to roll through."
If that doesn't sell it to you, I don't know what will. Kahn+Neek, Flowdan, P Money, Footsie, Capo Lee? British music culture at its very best. You'd be foolish to miss it.
Love Saves the Day – Bristol, May 27-28
If you've ever met someone that's been to Love Saves the Day, you've probably heard nothing but good things. Well, with the exception of last year's intense spring showers, that is.
British inclement weather aside, LSD has been churning out well-rounded, carefully curated line-ups with seasonal consistency, offering class stage design, and unintimidating venue size. and genre diversity.
This year is arguably one of its best as TikTok sensation Jyoty, Dubstep legend Mala, Nia Archives, Skream, and Grime royalty in D Double E and Novelist bolster the line-up.
Cross the Tracks – London, May 28
Another one of London's often underappreciated gems. Settling into the heart of Brixton, South London, the festival boasts an exciting arrangement of Jazz, Soul, and Funk artists. In short, this is the place to be if you're keen for a good ol' boogie.
Better yet, this is one of the city's cheapest experiences with tickets starting at £10.
"It’s an intimate experience that's had a strong line-up each time I've gone. The crowd has always been nice with no agg, which is always a bonus, while ticket prices were accessible – which we LOVE in this day and age." – Amanda Bell
Forbidden Forest – Nottinghamshire, June 2-4
Raving is great – raving by a castle, in a forest? Even better.
Prep your best bass face, get ready to two-step, pull out your gun fingers. and throw on your best bucket hat, because Forbidden Forest 2023 has the perfect blend of electronic music to keep you going all weekend.
Hybrid Minds, Franky Wah, Hedex, Aluna George, East End Dubs, Girls Don't Sync, Skepsis...the list goes on. It's due to be a belter.
Download – Donnington Park, June 8-11
The UK's quintessential rock festival. Spread over four days in the genre's spiritual home, this 20th edition of the event looks set to be (a heavy) one to remember.
Need more convincing? Metallica, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch, Evanescence, Slipknot; and that's barely scratching the surface.
Parklife – Manchester, June 10-11
You can't spell the UK summer festival circuit without throwing Parklife in the mix. If you're new to the scene or looking for a festival that offers a broad stroke of genres that includes House, Techno, DnB, UK Rap, Hip Hop, and more, you'd do well to make sure you're there this summer.
Touching down on Manchester's Heaton Park every June, the festival has delivered some of the nation's best line-ups with incredible consistency. This year, things are due to be even bigger, with more acts than ever before.
2023's edition of the two-day festival sees Skrillex return to the UK festival scene alongside Four Tet and Fred Again, while Aitch takes the headline spot.
For the DnB fans out there, Parklife boasts two of the genre's most exciting stages, hosted by Worried About Henry, and DnB All Stars & Metropolis. Gun fingers ready.
Glastonbury – Somerset, June 21-25
Glastonbury. Arguably one of the biggest festivals in the world; is undoubtedly the most iconic that the UK has to offer.
Not too many can boast that they've attended Glastonbury once, let alone several times, thanks to the sheer popularity of the festival. Since its founding in 1970, its attendance has grown from 1,500-210,000, making it the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world.
With headliners that have included Kendrick Lamar and Stormzy in recent years, with Sir Elton John leading the pack this year and rumors circulating that Rihanna may join the fray, it's easy to see why this summer weekend is so beloved across the world. Oh, and who could forget Dave and Alex?
“2022 was my first Glastonbury festival. As a regular UK festival goer I always questioned why Glastonbury has the reputation it does, but now I understand. It’s legit a pop-up city and is the best place on earth. From Latin dancing to queer underground techno to heading to the cinema or watching the sunrise, there’s literally something for everyone.
The mad thing is I bet I only saw a half of what it had to offer. But with a supermarket and doctors on site, why would you ever need to leave? Unfortunately, a yearly ticket isn’t guaranteed and I’m manifesting daily about getting one on resale this year.” – Callum Leyden, Visual Editor
Worried About Henry: Dreamland Open Air – Margate, June 24
The maths here is simple – a premium line-up of DnB acts courtesy of Worried About Henry, the British seaside, open-air, in the midst of summer. Honestly, what more could you want?
British Summer Time – London, June 24-July 8
You've got to make at least one trip to London's Hyde Park when the sun's out, and British Summer Time is the perfect excuse.
2023 has a lot to offer the nation's pop fans – K-Pop sensation BLACKPINK will be making their UK festival debut, Take That will be joined by The Script and the Sugababes, while P!nk and Gwen Stafani promise a summer carnival.
Love Supreme – Lewes, June 30-July 2
Three days of Jazz, Funk, and Soul? Say no more!
Everything about Love Supreme screams golden energy and vibes – from the name to the line-up that includes Little Simz, Grace Jones, Thundercat, Emeli Sandé, and Pip Millet – for an experience that puts music first.
Wireless – London, July 7-9
For the UK's Hip-Hop, UK Rap, R&B, and Drill fans, it doesn't get much better than Wireless.
Over the years, the festival has welcomed Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Kanye West, Drake, Skepta, Giggs, 50-Cent, ASAP Rocky, Wizkid, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and plenty more to its line-ups, making it the nation's premier location for genre-defining US and UK sounds.
Worried About Henry: In the City – London, July 9
Worried About Henry has been doing the UK's DnB crowd a service over the past few years, with the last two years, in particular, delivering groundbreaking moment after moment from the label.
Up and down the UK's major cities, its chaotic line-up of talent has been seeing the genre's enormous growth and evolution, pitching superstar names like Andy C, Shy FX, and Wilkinson alongside the biggest rising stars in the game.
Delivering their first London festival experience in the heart of London this summer, no self-professed DnB head would be able to miss this.
Secret Garden Party – Cambridgeshire, July 20-23
Wait a minute – is this year's Secret Garden Party (SGP) Star Wars themed!? Everything about the marketing, from the "Episode XVII: A New Hope" title to revamped site, would suggest as much.
The theatre of dress at festivals like SGP is a huge part of the fun; so if you're keen to get your Jedi robes and lightsaber back out this summer, you know where to go.
"For me, Secret Garden Party is the ultimate intimate festival in the UK. Outside of the always stellar line up (the main stage situated next to the lake is a gorgeous setting) you'll be sure to bump into plenty of friendly characters/new friends multiple times over the weekend.
The crowd is super inclusive and the after-hours areas are a disco feast. Not to mention, a swim in the lake is very needed to reset your festival batteries. Thank god SGP returned last year!" – Lewis Hopkins
Elrow Town – London, July 22
If you've ever been to Amnesia in Ibiza, you'll know exactly what Elrow is all about.
Best described as an otherworldly experience that's full of alien-like creatures, brightly colored set designs, trippy stage visuals, and attendees dressed in all colors of the rainbow; you can expect lots and lots of House and Techno.
Boomtown Fair – Hampshire, August 9-13
For me, Boomtown Fair is the UK's cherry on the cake where festivals are concerned.
What sets this five-day experience apart from the rest, is its founder's commitment to telling an evolving story, serving to reward those that attend each "chapter" of the narrative.
Far more than just music, at Boomtown, expect roleplaying actors interacting with festival goers around the town's several districts, hidden stages, incredible lights and pyrotechnics, and woodland stages.
The otherworldly experience boasts a hefty 77k attendance, bringing together an otherworldly nation of partygoers. Best of all? The line-up remains a secret until days before the festival, ensuring everyone in attendance is there for the experience before all else.
Houghton – Houghton, August 10-13
There's always going to be some crossover in the summer festival circuit, and the second weekend of August is prime real estate for organizers. With Boomtown, Houghton, and We Out Here all falling on the same weekend, you're spoilt for choice.
Houghton promises a carefully curated line-up of artists from across electronic music and its various sub-genres, focusing less on globally recognized names and more on emerging and underground talents. Of the 200 artists performing across the weekend, 60 will be making their festival debut, making Houghton the perfect place for musical discovery,
We Out Here – Wimborne St Giles, August 10-14
We Out Here is a relatively new addition to the UK slate, but don't let that put you off.
Despite its age, starting in 2019, the festival has already won and been nominated for several awards. With a small capacity of 10,000, it's been described as an intimate and friendly atmosphere in which you're likely to cross paths with the same people countless times.
For 2023, the gross-generational community of party-goers will share in sounds from fast-rising UK talents like Knucks, Nia Archives, and Wesley Joseph, amongst a line-up of 100+ more.
All Points East – London, August 18-19
No summer in London, particularly East London, is complete without hitting at least one day at All Points East.
The festival has quickly risen to become one of the circuits essentials, offering an easy-access venue in the heart of Victoria Park and a line-up that, last year, included Pusha T, Disclosure, James Blake, and last year Koffee, and more.
This year? Stormzy is on the cards.
Hospitality in the Woods – London, August 19
Can you really claim to be a DnB head if you haven't been to a Hospitality event? The cream of the crop in the genre; whether it's on the beach, abroad, or on home turf, they're not to be missed.
Unfortuently, last year's event was called off, making attendance at this year's gathering all the more essential this summer.
Bringing together the best of Let it Roll and Hospitality, the day event sees everyone from Camo & Krooked, Goddard, Netsky, High Contrast, Metrik, Calibre, Annix, and plenty more come out to play.
Field Day – London, August 19
Part of the All Points East roster, Field Day, also finding its home in Victoria Park, brings people from all over the city together for a day in the sun.
This year's offering already boasts Aphex Twins and SBTRKT.
Lost Village – Lincolnshire, August 24-27
The beauty of the summer festival circuit is the pure escapism it offers. Nothing says an escape from reality like stepping into the surreal and intimate 4-day experience that is Lost Village.
Expect an abandoned world that encompasses dilapidated buildings, old junkyards, hidden gardens, and a disused airbase.
"Lost Village was the best festival I've been to. Levels." – Fabian Solomon
Creamfields North – Daresbury, August 24-27
Creamfields North calls itself the UK's best electronic music festival, and honestly, I'm inclined to agree.
Although I haven't attended since 2015, it's consistently offered the best line-ups an electronic music fan could ask for – but what makes it so good? Across 30 stages and 4 days, you'll find headline acts across all major electronic genres; from Techno to House, Techhouse, DnB, and more.
From Andy C to Hedex, Peggy Gou, Carl Cox, Four Tet, Michael Bibi, Matrix Garrix, and Swedish House Mafia to name a few, Creamfields North is a must for anybody that bases their music tastes on BPM.
"A vibrant, funky get-together in the sun, what’s not to love – Creamfields is an all-encompassing escape from the every day!" – Selina Cakirer
We Are Fstvl – Upminster, August 25-27
Fun fact – the last time I went to this festival, I was wearing a foot brace and crutches. Good times.
This year, We Are Fstvl turns 10. In its decade of operation, it's brought together all of the best parts of Solardo, CircoLoco, Solid Grooves, and more. In short, if you want the Ibiza experience without the financial burden of hopping over to the island, We Are Fstvl is the perfect compromise – you'll likely get a heavy dose of British sunshine, too!
Eastern Electrics – London, August 26
While the setup of Eastern Electrics has changed several times over the past few years, which includes shifting from a two-day split with one day offering a diverse selection of genres (which once included 67) with the second purely electronic, to a House/Tech-only festival, it's remained consistent fun year on year.
As an added bonus, this is one of the cheapest festivals in the summer circuit, so if you're after some fun that won't hurt your pockets, look no further.
Tokyo World – Bristol, September 16-17
If the British summer festival circuit has taught us anything, it's that Bristol knows how to get down. If you really wanted to, you could probably spend the full season there, because its scene is booming.
While Wireless feels like the obvious choice for US sounds in the UK, it's not the only destination. For those seeking more of an underground sound (compared to the superstar names of Wireless), Tokyo World offers a perfect balance.
Although this year's line-up is yet to be announced, previous years have included everyone from Action Bronson and Ace Hood to Burna Boy, D Block Europe, Dusky, Krept and Konan, IAMDDB, Ghost Face Killah, Hybrid Minds, and countless others.
Whatever surprises the 2023 has in store, Tokyo World is definitely a worthy edition to any circuit.
Waterworks – London, September 19
Waterworks turned out to be somewhat of a hidden gem for me, cropping up on my radar last summer as the final festival of the season.
While Calibre and Yung Singh were the only names I was familiar with on the line-up, the experience did not disappoint.
The stage setup offered a unique experience that felt like an open-air Boiler Room experience that only improved as the night went on. If you're looking for the perfect finisher for your summer, this is it.
Boundary – Brighton, September 30
The final festival of the British summer – Boundary.
Situated in the heart of Brighton, this festival offers the perfect opportunity to spend a weekend on one of the country's famous beachfronts before knocking about to the likes of Pendulum, Hedex, and Sub Focus.
Perhaps not the peaceful close to the season you'd want, but the chaotic one you deserve.